Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Zurawik: Everybody is not with Tomi Lahren, Mr. President

President Donald Trump took to Twitter today to tell the world what a “truly outstanding and respected young woman” he thinks Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren is.

He also wanted to let his 52.2 million followers know, “Everybody is with Tomi Lahren.”

This came after he saw the twentysomething pundit on “Fox & Friends” this morning talking about an incident in Minneapolis over the weekend. She was having brunch with her parents when a group of people she described as her age threw water in her direction and then started chanting profanities at her. That’s her description of the event.

Throwing anything at anyone and speaking profanely to them are acts that should be denounced. This is not the way to be a civil society.

But what has been missing in too many of the accounts I saw online and in social media is some context as to why Lahren is the object of such enmity. And it is even more important to add that context with the president of the United States now holding her up as “truly outstanding and respected young woman.”

Lahren has made her name in far-right media by being a provocateur who exploits some of the most explosive fissures in American life.

The video embedded here includes my criticism of her for a tweet she posted calling Black Lives Matter "the new KKK."

Here's the full tweet: “Meet the new KKK, they call themselves ‘Black Lives Matter’ but make no mistake their goals are far from equality. #Dallas #bluelivesmatter."

I can’t embed the actual tweet because she took it down in the face of fierce backlash.

"That’s really reckless," I said to her on the CNN show. "As a journalist, what you did appalls me.”

"I’m not a journalist, I’m a commentator, and I’m allowed to have my feelings and my opinions," Lahren replied.

The historical ignorance shown in her comparison of Black Lives Matter to a terrorist and racist organization that oppressed people of color through burning, shooting, beating and killing makes me angry even as I type the words today.

And listening to her “I’m allowed” speech on this video makes me want to gag. Looking back, I am surprised I managed to keep it civil.

I cannot even start to imagine how angry someone whose ancestors were victims of Klan terror might feel to see and hear her recklessly tweeting such words and then acting all righteous in defending them.

You throw gasoline on the fires of the culture wars the way she does, you can’t be surprised when someone tries to throw water in your face and insult you.

I am not saying it is right. It isn’t. But it is also wrong to use the media to fan the flames of the racial divide in this country and denigrate a group of people who are exercising their right to protest.

Believe me, I would not have written a word about this if Trump had not weighed in on Twitter today with words that echo the support he showed for racists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville last summer.

Everybody is not with Tomi Lahren, Mr. President. But you wouldn’t know that watching Fox News, would you?

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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